With Week 9 of the NFL season kicking off tonight, several high-profile players have gone down with injuries around the league. For the New England Patriots, the most notable absence has been CB Aqib Talib.
He has been out of action for the past two weeks with a hip flexor. The good news for Patriots fans is that he may be ready to return from injury in time for Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. According to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, Talib practiced in full pads Thursday for the first time since suffering the injury. As you may or may not know, practicing in full pads is a huge step for any injured player working their way back into game shape. Players no longer shy away from contact when the pads come on, and if the player holds up well with the added contact, it usually translates into a return to game action.
If Talib does not suffer a setback between now and Sunday, the general feeling is that he will be ready to go for Week 9. If he does indeed return this week, it would provide a huge boost to the Patriots’ secondary.
The team will definitely want him out there covering explosive WR Antonio Brown, Ben Roethlisberger‘s favorite target this season. He is a dynamic weapon that is tough to cover no matter who is shadowing him.
The other cornerbacks on the Patriots’ roster could struggle containing him, if they are forced to cover him. Luckily for the team, it is looking like that scenario will not have to play out. Talib is a shutdown player on the Patriots’ defense, and his presence will be critical both in this game and down the stretch.